If 2019 has been a year of powerful developments in the Arab publishing world, the new decade looks set to see the Arab Renaissance reach new heights.

2019 of course has been the year of Sharjah as World Book capital (until April 2020) –

and the year of the first ever IPA Middle East Publishing Seminar.

And, just announced, the first ever Education Publishing Seminar.

We’ve seen attendance records at Arab book fairs fall through the year. Casablanca, Tunis, Baghdad, Riyadh and Muscat all set new highs – three of them breaking the one million visitors mark –

and we still have the giants of the Arab book fair world – Algiers and Sharjah – to come.

Both will on past performance bring in more than two million visitors each.

As this post goes live Big Bad Wolf is in Dubai for its second year, with 3 million books on sale in its phenomenal 11-day 24/7 book sale.

It’s in this context that we should see the news that Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi) has added two new grant categories – Digital Books and Audio Books – to its ‘Spotlight on Rights’ programme.

Spotlight on Rights, which will mark its 12th anniversary at the 30th Abu Dhabi Book Fair in April 2020, has long provided translation grants to further the spread of Arab literature worldwide, and facilitated networking opportunities between Arab and international publishers.

But now, DCT Abu Dhabi says in a press release,

The new categories have been established in an effort to provide the public with access to ever more high-quality Arabic content, in light of the growth of the digital publishing sector and the growing demand for audio books.

Abdullah Majid Al Ali, Acting Executive Director of the Dar Al Kutub Sector at DCT Abu Dhabi, said,

The DCT Abu Dhabi press release explains,

We are proud to be leading the way on the latest international trends in publishing and translation, using cutting-edge technologies to translate or disseminate our world-class publications. Digital publishing is the future, and we seek to embrace it wholeheartedly as a way to further our mission of enabling the wider consumption and appreciation of Arabic literature and Arabic-language content.

Launched in 2009, Spotlight on Rights has contributed to the publication of more than 600 titles across a variety of fields, including children’s books, science, history and social sciences to name but a few. To date, more than 120 publishers have been awarded grants starting from $2,500 for children’s books and up to $4,000 for all other genres, resulting in translations from French, German, Swedish and English amongst other languages.

The next decade will see the Arab renaissance flourish, driven by digital as publishers warm to the opportunities of a hybrid print and digital future and embrace the digital-first generations.